I know that there's a problem of boneh to build tents on Shabbos. Does anyone have advice for my kids who love tying sheets between their beds?

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    I also know kids who love watching TV. Teaching them about Shabbat means saying no sometimes. – Double AA Nov 19 at 18:54
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    No hetter. Although if they have a bunk bed, they can drape a sheet to hang over the bottom bunk which is apparently quite entertaining as well. – user6591 Nov 19 at 18:59
  • They can build their "tent" on Friday afternoon and have a "campout Shabbat"! – Josh K Nov 19 at 19:04
  • There's a problem(ohel arai; temporary tent). If they're under nine, I think you should be lenient and not say anything. After that, they can be taught the pertaining halachot. It would be permitted if there was an existing structure or roof that spans about seven centimeters in width and the sheet was draped over it(like @user6591 suggested) because it is permitted to add onto an ohel that existed before shabbat. Good question and very common that should be brought to parent's attention. – chacham Nisan Nov 19 at 19:06
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Dose of Halocha writes that you should teach them how to make it in a backwards way by holding the roof, building the walls and then lowering the roof. It should work like that with chairs.

the Mishna Berura (315:1) writes that one mustn’t spread out mats or sheets like a tent on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 315:2) writes that if the ohel existed already, then one may add to it. Thus, one may place long tablecloths over tables or add to other structures, providing the roof is at least a tefach wide.

Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 315:3) and Mishna Berura (315:17) write that one may build a temporary structure if they construct it in a backwards manner. Thus, one may hold up the roof and build the walls under it.

Likewise, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 315:4) writes that one mustn’t dismantle an ohel on Shabbos. Yet, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 24:22) writes that one may do so in a backwards manner, that is by raising the roof and dismantling the walls before lowering the roof.

In conclusion, as creating tents out of blankets on Shabbos is problematic, one needs to teach one’s children to build them in a backwards manner, or create them before Shabbos.

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    Here though they want to live under it. It's not like the Shulchan Arukh's case of building a bedframe – Double AA Nov 19 at 19:44
  • it's irrelevant. At the end of the day, it's a temporary structure,a nd that is the halocho for a temporary structure which is derabonon. – Zvi Nov 20 at 21:05
  • It's not irrelevant. A temporary structure not used for dwelling is more lenient. – Double AA Nov 20 at 21:06
  • how would these sheets be different to a bed? I haven't seen that before.. Do you have a source for that? – Zvi Nov 20 at 21:08
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    The Mishna Berura you cite discusses the issue of a tent used for dwelling under והיכא שפורס סדין או מחצלת לשם אהל כגון להגן מפני החמה והגשמים או כדי שיהיה ראוי להשתמש תחתיו באיזה דבר אסור is more strict than an accidental tent דבאהל עראי כזה שאינו מתכוין בעשייתו לשם אהל שתחתיו אלא לתשמיש אחר על גביו מלמעלה ורק ממילא נעשה כמו אהל למטה לא אסרו – Double AA Nov 20 at 21:14

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